Random Friday memory 23: wireless

My childhood up to the age of 13 was in a television-free world, TV not being launched in Sydney until 1956. So we all had “the wireless”, as radio was more commonly called in Australia in those days.


Photo by Max Dupain

Here is one show we listened to:


This page from 2AD Armidale which broadcast the show from the Macquarie network in Sydney (2GB) tells us about it.

This very successful radio show that ran from 1942 to 1959 on Australian Radio with quizmaster John Deese, the program was modelled on the American show of the same name.

The Quiz Kids involved a panel of five Sydney schoolboys and girls aged 11 to 15, who were challenged by questions sent in by listeners from all around Australia. The listener was rewarded with cash and sponsors’ products in the event of no ‘Quiz Kid’ supplying a satisfactory answer. A separate panel in Melbourne was used for six weeks each year…

For the 1959 2AD Radio Appeal, the station arranged for John Dease and the Quiz Kids Radio Show to be presented in the Armidale Town Hall (pictured above). The night marked the 907th performance of the Quiz Kids, with two local students as guest Quiz Kids they were 15 year old Bundarra girl, Vicki Stuart, a student at St. Ursula’s College Armidale and 12 year old Bill Newell from Werris Creek, a student at Armidale’s De La Salle College. The radio program was recorded in front of an audience of 500 for re-broadcast at a later date across Australia through the Macquarie Network.

With the arrival of television in 1956, the Quiz Kids program went the way of so many other radio shows, as sponsors and audience moved towards the new medium, bringing an end to the golden days of Australian Radio.

That page tells you about most of the shows we listened to on commercial radio in the 1940s and 1950s. Jack Davey for example:

John Andrew “Jack” Davey was born in New Zealand in 1907 and migrated to Sydney in 1931 where he obtained employment in radio. Jack remained a popular broadcaster for over twenty-five years and was known nationally on many Macquarie Network shows. He did not make the transition to television as well as his rival, Bob Dyer. Like the Walter Winchell-Ben Bernie and Fred Allen-Jack Benny rivalries in the US, the Davey-Dyer rivalry was played strictly for laughs. Jack made big money and spent it just as quickly, although he retained a fast wit and was a non-drinker. His prolific output of programs meant that he was on radio five nights per week, a frenetic pace which probably contributed to his early death in 1959.

Fifteen year old John Howard (future Australian Prime Minister) was a contestant on his Protex Show quiz where he embarrassed himself by not knowing what a tree is called that sheds its leaves during winter (a leaf shedder?). At least, John was still at Canterbury Boys’ High School and not earning over $100,000 as a member of parliament (unlike Jason Wood, the Member for LaTrobe who embarrassed himself during an adjournment debate speech – see separate posting). Howard was awarded a booby prize – a year’s supply of soap – instead of the hoped-for washing machine.

And on ABC the Children’s Hour including the Argonauts Club. I was an Argonaut.